adidas Brand Strategy


The adidas brand has a long history and deep-rooted connection with sport. Its broad and diverse sports portfolio, from major global sports such as football and running, to regional heartbeat sports such as American football and rugby, has enabled the brand to transcend cultures and become one of the most recognized and iconic global brands, on and off the field of play. The adidas brand’s mission is to be the best sports brand in the world, by designing, building and selling the best sports products in the world, with the best service and experience, in a sustainable way.

Driven by a relentless pursuit of innovation as well as decades of accumulating sports science expertise, the adidas brand has developed a truly unique and comprehensive sports offering. Spanning footwear, apparel, equipment and services, the brand caters for all, from elite professional athletes and teams to any individual who wants to make sport part of their lives. We help athletes of all levels to make a difference – in their game, in their life, in their world. This is anchored in our core belief that, through sport, we have the power to change lives.


The consumer is at the heart of everything the adidas brand does. By constantly developing desirable products and inspiring experiences, the brand strives to build a strong image, trust and loyalty with consumers. Through ‘Creating the New’, the adidas brand has refined its strategic direction, operational processes and incentive systems, to foster a culture of consumer obsession across its entire organization.

  • Operating model: To ensure long-term success, it is important that we continue to challenge ourselves to learn and grow. We must constantly iterate to become faster and stronger. Therefore, the adidas brand’s operating model is directed by the guiding principles of . The aim of Brand Leadership is to provide an organizational structure which enables a ‘consumer-obsessed’ culture that can act with speed, agility and empowerment.
  • Creator archetype: Owing to the rapid evolution of sport and sports culture, the adidas brand targets key consumer groups and influencers to create brand desirability and momentum through a well-defined consumer segmentation strategy. The consumer grid comprises six key quadrants (Male Athlete, Female Athlete, Young Creator, Streetwear Hound, Amplifier, and Value Consumer), which are not mutually exclusive. Within this grid, it is key to win the most influential consumers, defined as the creator archetype. True to the brand’s values, these influential consumers define themselves as a work in progress – are all doers and makers, first to adopt, focused on what’s new and what’s next. A large portion of creators live, play and work in the world’s most influential and aspirational cities, a key reason for the company’s Cities strategic choice.
  • Consumer centricity: Companies that put the consumer’s voice as a centerpiece of their decision-making process have higher levels of success in creating brand advocacy. Therefore, we implemented a global ecosystem in order to drive brand momentum in a measurable and objective manner. NPS has become an important part of the adidas brand’s advocacy program. Through this program, we strive to understand consumers’ perception (positive and negative) of the brand and the key drivers which motivate them to recommend the brand to their friends.  see Internal Management System


We are convinced that footwear has the highest influence on brand perception among product categories. Footwear is also the most powerful driver of NPS, which in turn translates directly into consumer purchase intent and our potential to grow market share. The adidas brand is relentlessly focused on innovation and newness in footwear, delivering cutting-edge technologies that help athletes make a difference in their game, life and world. Unparalleled access to athlete data and an archive that is unrivaled in the industry provide deep insights and ample opportunity to add chapters to the brand’s rich heritage. At the same time, the brand has a clear strategy to reduce the number of footwear models, putting a stronger focus on key franchises that can really make a difference for the brand. These footwear franchises are managed carefully and long term with the aim of shaping sport and influencing culture. They are built to create trends, rather than follow. Through uncompromised function, iconic design and unique stories, they directly root from and are targeted at the athlete, and have the potential to be iterated and expanded over time. Their lifecycles are tightly managed, to ensure longevity and relevance. In addition, franchises are prioritized throughout the value chain, building on the company’s strategic choices of Speed, Cities and Open Source. The adidas brand expects its top footwear franchises to represent at least 30% of the brand’s footwear business by 2020. In 2019, this included, amongst others, the adidas UltraBoost 19, Continental 80, Predator, and Nite Jogger. On the apparel side, the brand continued to build out franchises on the success of the Tiro Pant, Z.N.E. Hoodie and, more recently, the MyShelter Jacket and VRCT Jacket.


Winning the female consumer continues to be a key focus as it offers one of the largest business opportunities for the adidas brand, with the women’s category leading the growth in the sportswear industry. In 2019, the adidas brand further invested resources in expanding a cross-functional women’s organization and support infrastructure to set direction for creative, ranging, merchandising and marketing as well as to steer cross-category planning. When it comes to winning the female consumer, the brand has focused its initiatives across product, retail, and activation. Highlights from these initiatives include:

  • Product: adidas has been investing in key product areas that are critical to winning the trust of the female consumer, including bras, tights and running footwear, as well as improving overall apparel fit for the female consumer. In 2019, the adidas brand introduced its first inclusive sizing collection that spans from sizes XXS-4X in partnership with Universal Standard. Additionally, adidas and Stella McCartney created a post-mastectomy sports bra designed to help women who have undergone surgery for breast cancer bring sport and fitness back into their lives. Two adidas by Stella McCartney proof-of-concepts were unveiled as the latest step in adidas’ continued long-standing commitment to reducing the industry’s environmental impact – a 100% recyclable hoodie and a tennis dress created with Microsilk and cellulose blended yarn.
  • Retail: adidas has taken steps toward enhanced merchandising and storytelling across the brand, building off female consumer shopping insights, to enable a seamless shopping experience for her to mix and match product. The brand has also rolled out a bra fitting program in adidas own-retail stores across the globe, covering our key cities and important commercial trade zones, with continued investment planned. In this context, we are training our retail staff to help customers to find the right product.
  • Activation: One of the cornerstones of the adidas Women’s approach continues to be the Creator Network: powered by sport, fueled by culture, and fostered by collaboration. The most notable addition to the Creator Network was the announcement of a landmark collaboration with Beyoncé as a brand ambassador and co-creator. Additionally, the brand expanded the Creator Network in 2019 by adding new athletes and influencers, including Mikaela Shiffrin, Jessamyn Stanley and Nadya Okamoto. The brand also continued the She Breaks Barriers initiative focused on removing barriers to sport for girls and elevating the conversation around equality in sport across genders.


adidas is focused on creating inspirational and innovative marketing concepts that drive consumer advocacy and build brand equity. While the brand historically spent almost half of its marketing investments on partnership assets, with the remainder on brand marketing activities such as digital, advertising, point-of-sale and grassroots activations, we will decrease the ratio of marketing investments spent on . In addition, the brand will consolidate and focus resources to achieve a great focus and impact on the Creator and the brand’s key franchises. This will be achieved by focusing on three priorities:

  • Reason to believe: By harnessing the brand’s creator positioning, the emotion of sport, and the power of sport to change lives, the adidas brand will communicate a reason to believe in the brand, letting the world know what distinguishes adidas from the competition.
  • Reason to buy: The second priority is to harmonize and deliver globally consistent and impactful communication around the brand’s key franchises that represent the best of adidas sport, style and innovation. By investing more money against fewer items, the adidas brand will strive to elevate and maintain the iconic status of its key franchises, giving the consumer clear and compelling reasons to buy our product.
  • Sports communities: This is where loyalty is built and earned. The adidas brand defines sports communities as those places where athletes are fully immersed in their sport with peers and friends. It’s the football cage, the run base or the street court. Until 2020, the brand will therefore step up its grassroots and local activation efforts, led by initiatives in the world’s most influential cities.

In terms of partnership assets, while reducing the ratio of marketing spend and the number of partnerships, the adidas brand will nonetheless continue to bring its products to the biggest stages in the world through:

  • Events with global reach: such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the Boston and Berlin Marathons.
  • High-profile teams: such as the national association football teams of Germany, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Belgium and Japan, as well as top clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Flamengo Rio de Janeiro in football, the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby, and American universities such as Miami, Arizona State and Texas A&M. In 2019, the brand celebrated its new partnership with one of the most globally recognized football clubs in the world: Arsenal Football Club.
  • High-profile individuals: such as football stars Lionel Messi, Toni Kroos, Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba, Paulo Dybala, Son Heung-min, Vivianne Miedema and Wendie Renard, basketball stars James Harden, Candace Parker, Damian Lillard, Liz Cambage and Donovan Mitchell, American football players Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster, baseball athletes Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, as well as tennis stars Garbiñe Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem as well as alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin.

In addition, the adidas brand also has a number of strategic partnerships and creative collaborations in place. The strategic partnership with Kanye West is the most significant one ever created between the adidas brand and a non-athlete, while the collaboration between adidas Originals and Pharrell Williams remains highly influential. Top designers and design studios the brand works with include Yohji Yamamoto, Stella McCartney, Raf Simons and Alexander Wang. In 2019, the adidas brand entered new partnerships with Beyoncé, Ninja, the International Space Station ISS and Prada.


The adidas brand is committed to sustainability and aspires to create lasting change in our industry through eco-innovation, eco-activation, and by scaling its actions to end plastic waste. see Sustainability

The brand’s innovations aim to reduce the amount of virgin plastic added to the world and clean up the already existing plastic. As such, the adidas brand more than doubled the number of products made with recycled ocean plastic from seven million in 2018 to more than 14 million in 2019. The brand also created fully recyclable products such as the Futurecraft Loop performance footwear and the adidas by Stella McCartney Infinite Hoodie, in line with its ambition to move toward circular business models. see innovation

The adidas brand has a wide reach, and believes it is essential to drive eco-activation through its employees and with its consumers. The brand’s global movement, Run For The Oceans, in its third year doubled in size, with around 2.2 million participants logging over twelve million kilometers for Parley Ocean Schools. In its direct-to-consumer business, the adidas brand installed dedicated spaces for sustainability, which are best exemplified in its flagship stores and on In addition, the brand launched the Infinite Play program in the UK, to reward adidas members for turning in their used adidas gear and helping give it a second life.

We continue to push our industry forward, both as a leader and alongside key partners who help us to become better. May it be as one of the founding signatories of the UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action or through our open source partnerships with start-up incubators such as Fashion for Good and Station F. see innovation see Sustainability


The adidas brand has assigned each category a role and ambition until 2020, allowing the brand to exploit short- and medium-term potential, while at the same time incubating long-term opportunities for the brand. There are three overarching roles: ‘Lead’, ‘Grow’, and ‘Authenticate’.


  • To lead in the sporting goods industry, we believe it is a must to lead in the world’s most popular sport, football. As such, the adidas brand aspires to be the number one football brand in every market by 2020. This will be driven by focusing on winning the football creator in key cities as well as investing in the brand’s football footwear franchises. In 2019, the adidas brand implemented innovations across its football footwear business with the continued focus on the Predator, ‘X’, Nemeziz and Copa franchises. Endorsement by a globally renowned portfolio of player partners and further amplification via a wider portfolio of partners, such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup, ensured global reach and exceptional engagement from creators, especially during key consumption periods. In addition, 2019 marked the launch of the Arsenal Football Club partnership. Reinterpreting the brand’s shared history for today’s creator, the club represents a key partnership within the key city London approach.
  • The adidas brand also strives for leadership in lifestyle in every market with Originals. Not only is adidas the original sports brand, it also was the first brand to bring sport to the street. Brand credibility and heritage is an important prerequisite to win the discerning streetwear hound consumer. These consumers are looking for substance and craft and are inspired by stories and design.
  • The brand continued to actively manage the lifecycles of existing classic franchises such as Superstar and Stan Smith while also launching and incubating future icons like Ozweego and Supercourt to create a balanced portfolio with healthy sell-through rates and inventory levels across footwear and apparel. In 2019, the adidas brand continued to pioneer the future of fashion and streetwear culture by partnering with influential brands such as Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, as well as Prada and Palace.


  • The running category has been one of the adidas brand’s biggest growth opportunities across all genders and price points. The brand’s goal is to double sales in the category by 2020 compared to the 2015 financial year. The brand has introduced breakthrough innovations in materials such as BOOST, pioneered new manufacturing processes through , and significantly scaled up 3D printing together with its partner Carbon. To spur growth, amongst other things, adidas Running has significantly refined and evolved its franchise strategy for the male and female athlete across price points. The category will also continue to increase its investment in running communities and grassroots activations through the adidas Runners communities in over 100 cities around the world, as well as drive the future of sport through digital experience and the relaunch of the Runtastic app as the ‘adidas Running by Runtastic’ app. It will also keep playing a major part in sustainability through the Run For the Oceans activation and the commitment to recycled polyester programs together with Parley. In 2019, the brand launched Futurecraft Loop, the first fully recyclable running shoe that was made to be remade.
  • The second category where the adidas brand is focused on driving significant market share gains is adidas Core. adidas Core targets a value-minded consumer, offering entry-price-point styles across all categories. To ensure success, the adidas Core formula employs a ‘fast fashion’ business model. This means quick reaction to emerging trends through shorter lead times and excellence in retail execution.
  • The Training category is the adidas brand’s largest performance category and is also the apparel engine of the brand. Led by cutting-edge innovation in fabrics and materials, the adidas brand aims to significantly increase its apparel footprint through Training, which provides products for general training purposes as well as for specific sports, and through Athletics, which is geared to capturing the sports mindset of every athlete off the pitch. Given the high visibility of its products in all markets, this category plays a central role in amplifying the brand.


  • In order to be the best sports brand in the world, the adidas brand also needs to be true to sports on a local level. As such, the brand will continue to cater to a wide range of sports such as golf, basketball, American football, baseball, rugby, tennis, volleyball, swimming and boxing. To maximize impact and resources, in key markets and cities, the adidas brand will prioritize those sports that are most significant in terms of local culture, participation and national pride.

Brand Leadership

adidas’ operating model that aims at providing an organizational structure which enables a ‘consumer-obsessed’ culture that can act with speed, agility and empowerment.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A survey-based measure of how likely people are to recommend a brand. The survey is based on one single question to consumers: ‘How likely are you to recommend this brand to your friends?’, which can be answered within a scale from 0 to 10. Promoters are consumers giving the brand a 9 or 10 rating, while detractors are those between a 0 and 6 rating. The NPS is the difference between promoters and detractors measured in percentage points.

Promotion Partnerships

Partnerships with events, associations, leagues, clubs and individual athletes. In exchange for the services of promoting the company’s brands, the party is provided with products and/or cash and/or promotional materials.

Creators Club

Creators Club is a membership program that helps us deepen the relationship with our consumers. Linking all adidas apps, events, communities and channels into one single profile, the program rewards members with points for interacting with the brand, e.g. when making a purchase or using the ‘adidas Running by Runtastic’ or ‘adidas Training by Runtastic’ apps. Depending on the number of points, exclusive benefits are unlocked, including access to hype sneaker and apparel drops or invitations to special events.


Speedfactory stands for an accelerated manufacturing process of high-performance sports shoes enabled by latest manufacturing technology that was tested at the adidas Speedfactories in Ansbach, Germany, and Atlanta, USA. adidas opened both factories together with Oechsler in 2017. At the end of 2019, adidas started to deploy its Speedfactory technologies to produce athletic footwear at two of its suppliers in Asia. Production at the Ansbach and Atlanta Speedfactories will be discontinued by April 2020. This will enable adidas to continue to respond to short-term trends in demand while using production capacities more flexibly and economically and expanding the range of products with short production times faster. Manufacturing processes will continue to be developed, improved and tested in the adiLab at the adidas production site in Scheinfeld.

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